Just a decade ago doctors and researchers alike believed that celiac disease or gluten intolerance was extremely rare. But a recent study indicated that at least one in 133 people all over the world suffer from some form of gluten sensitivity. There are a few reasons why estimates were so inaccurate, but the one I will discuss today is the role other gastrointestinal disorders played in masking the presence of gluten intolerance.
Crohn’s disease, named for gastroenterologist Burrill Bernard Crohn, is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that may actually occur anywhere along the digestive tract, from the anus all the way up to the mouth. Like celiac disease, it is believed that Crohn’s may be an autoimmune disease. But unlike celiac disease and its known trigger gluten, we still do not understand why the body’s immune system attacks itself in Crohn’s disease.
Crohn’s features some core symptoms in common with gluten sensitivity, including diarrhea, abdominal pain and weight loss. It is believed in the past few decades some individuals who may have been diagnosed with Crohn’s may actually have been suffering from gluten intolerance.
Ulcerative colitis is another inflammatory bowel disease with symptoms in common with both Crohn’s disease and celiac disease. Ulcerative colitis specifically afflicts the colon or large intestine. It becomes evident when a colonoscopy reveals open sores or ulcers along the walls of the colon. The primary symptoms of ulcerative colitis is diarrhea with specs of blood, with increasing blood as the condition worsens.
The triggers of this condition remain somewhat mysterious, although there is evidence of a genetic connection. Ulcerative colitis can be frustrating for sufferers trying to treat it as it often swings between periods of remission and periods with exacerbated symptoms.
Because of the abdominal pain and diarrhea, some researchers hypothesize that celiac disease may have been misdiagnosed as ulcerative colitis at some point in the past two decades.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is really the worst offender. Why do I say that? Because IBS is what is known as a diagnosis of exclusion. This basically means the individual is diagnosed with IBS when they experience persistent gas, bloating, abdominal cramping, constipation and diarrhea but all tests for diseases such Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis come back negative. Therefore they just neatly put it under the umbrella term irritable bowel syndrome and call it a day.
If you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and you still suffer symptoms, I encourage you to seek a diagnosis for gluten intolerance or celiac disease as it is believed that many people diagnosed with IBS in the last few decades may have actually been suffering from gluten intolerance.
So if you are diagnosed with any of the three conditions discussed here and struggle to find relief, I encourage you to discuss the possibility of a gluten sensitivity with your doctor.
Article Source: Ezine Articles